Friday NFL Picks: Week 8

October 27, 2006

UPDATE – 10/31/06 – Standings for Week 8 Picks
Eller: 7-7 (12-14-1 overall)
Zack: 6-8 (14-14-1 overall)


It’s time once again for what’s quickly becoming my most anticipated post of the week: the NFL picks. Last week was my first attempt ever at picking against the spread. And after my surprising 8-4-1 showing, I have to say – gambling can be intoxicating, even when you’re only betting your online dignity. The picks have added an extra dimension to my Sunday afternoon/evening NFL viewing too, as I now have more than just two fantasy leagues to think about. Trying to remember all of my players and my picks against the spread was difficult – and amazing!

On a side note, the Panthers-Bengals game was excruciating for me to watch last week. First, the Panthers jump out to a good lead, only to allow the Bengals back in the game. Then, as always, the Panthers make a final march down the field. Down only 3 points and inside the ten yard line, I said aloud to Tracy, “We’re looking good, just as long as Jake doesn’t throw a stupid interception.”

Of course, as soon as Delhomme released his 3rd and goal pass, I knew I was doomed. That end zone INT was absolutely crippling, and in one instant seemed to take away all the momentum the Panthers had built up after 4 consecutive wins. The Cincy loss, combined with the ridiculously absurd loss to Minnesota earlier this year (Gamble’s “gamble” that didn’t turn out too well), has the Panthers at 4-3. They’re clearly one of the top 4 teams in the NFC when playing well, but if they’re not careful, they could in a tight race for a playoff spot.

And now, the Week 8 picks. Current standings see Eller at 5-7-1, and me at 8-4-1. As always, HOME TEAM is in caps, winners listed first in bold.

Texans (+3) over TITANS

In a week 8 that is littered with bad matchups, this has to rank as the worst. This game’s a tossup at best. I’ll take David Carr and the points – only because I have to.

Jags (+7) over EAGLES

Philly has been up and down all year. They’re a fantasy owner’s dream, as McNabb, Westbrook, and Stallworth (when healthy) have all put up big numbers this year. Yet, last week they mailed it in during the 1st half before coming all the way back simply to lose on an AMAZ

ING 62 yard field goal. I think they bounce back against the Jags, but giving 7 points is too much.

BENGALS (-3) over Falcons

Carson Palmer & Co. were impressive in the 2nd half last week against Carolina. Not flashy, but impressive. Palmer’s 4th and 1 pass to Chad Johnson for 30+ yards was top class stuff. I think the Falcons struggle outdoors, with a bit of a hangover from last week’s thriller over the Steelers.

Bucs (+9) over GIANTS

How will Gradkowski handle the Giants pass rush, which looked menacing (albeit against Grandpa Bledsoe) on Monday night? Perhaps a better question: where does Matt Bryant’s 62 yard game winner rank on the list of all-time “unbelievable and utterly amazing ways to end an NFL game list”? The guy’s previous long was 50! Absolutely insane way to end a game. I think the Giants win, but the Bucs will keep it closer than 9 points.

49ers (+16) over BEARS

The Bears are coming off an improbable win against Arizona that caused Denny Green to completely meltdown, the Cardinals team to lose all hope of salvaging its season, and left Chicago as one of the NFL’s 2 remaining undefeated teams. Chicago is this year’s “it” team, and will easily win over an outmatched 49er team that is improving. However, they won’t win big, so I’ll take the points.

PACKERS (-4) over Cardinals

Packers win. For reasoning, see above entry. Cards have completely derailed. Hard to believe the Packers are favored against anyone, but in this case, hop on the Lambeau wagon and enjoy the ride.

CHIEFS (-6) over Seahawks

I thought this line was a typo at first until I realized two things:

  1. Shaun Alexander still isn’t playing.
  2. Seneca Wallace is starting at QB for Seattle.

I’m hoping the Chiefs show up, and they should since they’re at home. Quick fantasy football plea: Larry Johnson, please score some TD’s.

SAINTS (-2) over Ravens

There’s something special about this year’s Saints team. I don’t know if it’s a carryover from the Katrina goodwill, the steadiness of Drew Brees, or the “only on video games” moves of Reggie Bush – whatever it is, the Saints have a good thing going right now. The Ravens, on the other hand, are banged up and wistfully thinking of the first few weeks when their defense was dominating. This is a matchup of teams going in different directions, and I’m sticking with the Saints and their momentum.

CHARGERS (-9.5) over Rams

Classic sucker line. Why in the world would the Chargers be favored by 9.5 points against the Rams? Sure, St. Louis is mercurial, but the Chargers stunk last week in the 1st half and have been dealing with the Shawne Merriman scandal all week. When you see a sucker line, one that screams for a bet with the points, go in the other direction. LT runs and catches all over the Ram, and San Diego wins by two touchdowns.

Steelers (-9) over RAIDERS

I’ll take the Steelers, even without knowing if Big Ben will play. In fact, I think Pittsburgh could bring in Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart, tie them together like Siamese twins, and still beat the Raiders by 10 or more.

Jets (-1.5) over BROWNS

Close 2nd to the Titans-Texans clash as worst matchup of the week. The J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have been using smoke and mirrors thus far to patch together a winning record. This one will be close, but the Jets figure out a way to win again.

Colts (+3) over BRONCOS

Finally some good games. The Colts are 6-0 again, and while all anyone wants to talk about is how bad their defense is, and how they don’t have a running game, one fact still remains – they have Peyton Manning. And it’s still the regular season. Anytime you can take Peyton, in the regular season, AND give him some points, you take it and run.

PANTHERS (-5.5) over Cowboys

How ‘bout ‘em? Well, they’re pretty messed up right now. Unless you’ve been under a rock this week you know that “America’s Team” has had more drama than Grey’s Anatomy (which I’ve never watched, but after reading Eller’s extensive analysis, I can make a few assumptions).

Both teams need this one. Dallas came into Carolina last year and laid the smackdown on the Panthers, when Julius Jones ran rampant. I have no idea how Tony Romo will react to starting, but I can only hope that he throws a couple errant 1st half passes so we can witness T.O. tearing into his newest whipping boy. Dallas is completely dysfunctional right now, and while I see this being a good game, I have to pick with my heart and take the Cats.

Patriots (-2) over VIKINGS

I learned my lesson last week. Don’t pick against Tom Brady. Dude’s a winner, and he loves big stages, so Monday Night Football is a perfect fit.

 


Eller’s PicksTitans (-3) over Texans
Eagles (-7) over Jaguars
Falcons (+3.5) over Bengals
Giants (-9) over Buccaneers
Bears (-16) over 49ers
Packers (-4) over Cardinals
Seahawks (+6) over Chiefs
Saints (-2) over Ravens
Rams (+9.5) over Chargers
Steelers (-9) over Raiders
Jets (+1.5) over Browns
Broncos (-3) over Colts
Panthers (-5.5) over Cowboys
Patriots (-2) over Vikings

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Pre-season Coaches’ Poll

October 27, 2006

NFL picks are coming later today, but my buddy Neill sent the 1st USA Today men’s basketball coaches poll this morning and the results are interesting.

Defending champ Florida checks in at #1, which is rightfully since they have all 5 starters coming back from last year’s team.  UNC checks in at #2 – hard to argue with the potential.  I’d be more worried about overblown expectations – especially with 8 of the top 9 players being freshmen or sophomores – if one of those players didn’t happen to be Tyler Hansbrough.  He came in with more expectations than anyone in last year’s class, and still found a way to blow all those expecations out of the water.

Right behind the Heels is another familiar face – Kansas.   And directly behind them is UNC’s Nov. 29th ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent, Ohio State.

Duke is completely overrated at #11 (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Carolina fan).  I’ve been told by a buddy from Texas A&M that this year they’re the “non-traditional” team to watch out for – they check in at #13.

Other teams of ACC interest include Boston College at #15 and Georgia Tech (coming off an 11-17 season) at #21, in large part because of a great recruiting class.  Maryland and Florida State also received votes.

See the full poll here.


Wake Forest: Athletic Powerhouse?

October 26, 2006

You have to hand it to Wake Forest. For a school with enrollment of around 4,000 (2nd smallest in Division I), they hold their own pretty well.

Sure, they have an inferiority complex at times when it comes to UNC. Sure, they play the same song during every time out at home basketball games (and yet the crowd goes crazy every time!)

But the success that Wake has been able to achieve, not only this season in football, but also in the less recognized sports such as field hockey and soccer, is quite impressive. As my good buddy Michael Ellis pointed out the other day, Wake is the only Div. I school to currently have Top 25 teams in men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, and football. It seems that even USA Today is catching on to what’s happening in the town that tobacco built.

Can’t wait until basketball season, though. Something tells me Skip’s going to have a long season again.


The John Bunting Saga

October 25, 2006

bunting.jpg

It hasn’t been a good week (or year for that matter!) to be a Tar Heel Football fan. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Heels played their worst game of the year last Thursday night, and were absolutely embarrassed by the woeful Wahoos of UVa up in Charlottesville.

After that dreadful result, I was more sure than ever that John Bunting would be relieved of his duties as UNC’s head coach. Surely they’d let him finish out the year, I thought. Well, it turns out they will – only as a lame duck coach, leading a simply lame program.

I hate to sound so cynical, and until the past few weeks I’ve been one of Bunting’s few remaining supporters. Yet, this season has been absolutely wretched. The days of consistent bowls and top 25 rankings are a mere memory. This weekend I was wishfully wondering what it would be like to win just 7 games in a season.

Is 7 games too much to ask? Of course it isn’t. Not when you’re at a school with the right facilities, great academics, and one of the most recognizable brands in college athletics. UNC has even managed to put solid players into the NFL, with one study showing that the Heels put more quality players into the League than such powers as Notre Dame, USC, and Texas.

Sadly, the results on Saturdays have been far less encouraging, and the decision was one that had to be made. While I have my doubts about the timing and method that was chosen, if it helps UNC to get a jump start on making a big hire, then the ends will surely justify the means.

My only remaining hope for fellow Tar Heels is that we don’t forget what a stand-up guy Bunting was. Desperate to pin the blame on someone or something, many Tar Heel supporters will allow Coach Bunting to become the program’s convenient whipping boy. While the results never lived up to expectations, no one could ever question Coach Bunting’s love for UNC, or his dedication to running the program with dignity and honor.

Thanks in large part to the influence of a legend named Dean, many of us who prefer light blue agree that there is a certain code of conduct that can only be called The Carolina Way. As we usher in a new era of Carolina football, it is only fitting that we honor this commitment by embracing the need for excellence without defaming the man who’s spent 6 years trying to get us there.

As a fellow lover of Carolina, John Bunting deserves nothing less.


Bad Month for Pedro Martinez

October 23, 2006

It’s been an absolutely atrocious month for Pedro Martinez.  First, he has to miss the entire playoffs and will be out until next June after having rotator cuff surgery.  Then, his Mets lose to the Cardinals in Game 7 on a Yadier Molina home run.

And now, his good buddy Nelson de la Rosa has passed away.  Despite appearing in films (such as “The Island of Dr. Moreau”), de la Rosa is perhaps best known as the little man whom Pedro befriended during his stint with the Red Sox and who was dubbed Pedro’s “good luck charm.”  de la Rosa was not only a popular participant in numerous celebratory champagne ceremonies, he was also the world’s shortest living adult.


Only at Dook…

October 20, 2006

Researchers at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering have helped develop the world’s first invisibility cloak.

Seriously. I’m not joking.

My guess – they’re going to find the first practical use for it this basketball season when Coach K gets a few losses and suddenly needs to “disappear” again, yet this time without having to go through the hassle of a hip surgery.

Someone find Pete Gaudet.


Earnings announcement confirms what we already know…

October 20, 2006

…Google is taking over the world.

google.jpg
Well, not exactly, but at least it seems that way. Google (GOOG) announced its recent quarter’s earnings yesterday and the results were as impressive as most believed they would be. While Yahoo has been struggling, eBay is floating along, and Microsoft is trying to figure out what their business model will be going forward, Google keeps rolling – with huge profits and the apparent drive to be the biggest and most relevant technology company in the world.

The raw numbers are impressive: Gross revenue rose 70% and quarterly profit was 92% higher than during the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $733.4 million compared to $381.2 million in the same quarter last year.

And the craziest part: Google is still gaining momentum. Their market share in their core activity, search, has grown by 24% in the past year to a 50% overall market share.

I guess we’re all aware of this phenomenon. It seems like every time we turn around, there’s another new Google product or tool to try out. It wasn’t that long ago (Fall of 2004) that you had to be “invited” to get a Gmail account. Now Gmail is as ubiquitous as any webmail service in the world. In my day to day activities I use Google products no less than 10-20 times a day, and as many as 100. Think about it: search, Google Desktop Search, Google Maps, personalized Google homepage, Gmail, Google Talk, Google images. And now that they’ve bought youTube, they’re the biggest video player on the web too.  That’s a whole lot of page views, chances to serve ads, and opportunities to explore new revenue models.
And while some people are scared that Google may be getting too big and may be getting too much control, I don’t buy it. The company has stayed true to its motto of “Don’t be evil” to this point. I’m a big fan of the Google, and will continue to be as long as the company continues to churn out quality products that enhance everyday life.

Posted: before work